The Catholic Moral Universe: A Journey Through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven with Dante

This course explores the Catholic moral universe: good and evil, freedom and bondage, actions and consequences, sin and salvation, and above all, love. This course is not a literature or history course, and students are not required to read the Divine Comedy. Instead, examples from Dante’s work are used to illustrate Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching, helping guide us on our own pilgrimages toward eternal life and joy.
What is right and wrong? How can we know? Do our choices have eternal consequences? How can we find true freedom, happiness, and fulfillment in this life and the next?

To address these questions, in March 2021 Pope Francis urged “Christian communities… and cultural associations to promote initiatives making known the message of” Dante’s great poem, the Divine Comedy, “in all its fullness.” LANE is responding by offering this unique course exploring the Catholic moral universe illustrated by Dante.

Dante is to Catholic literature what Michelangelo is to Catholic art and architecture, and what St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas are to Catholic theology: the best of our tradition and cultural patrimony. Pope Francis writes, “Dante knew how to express with poetic beauty the depth of the mystery of God and love. His poem is one of the highest expressions of human genius.”

The Holy Father reminds us that the Christian life is a pilgrimage in which “human beings remain ever free to choose which path to follow and which destiny to embrace,” and that Dante illustrates that our “eternal destiny depends on our free decisions. Even our ordinary and apparently insignificant actions have a meaning that transcends time... The greatest of God’s gifts is the freedom that enables us to reach our ultimate goal.”

Dante, says Pope Francis, “wants to show us the route to happiness, the right path to live a fully human life, emerging from the dark forest in which we lose our bearings and the sense of our true worth.”

Greg Smith

For four decades, Greg has taught and traveled, written and led throughout the Christian world, over thirty of those as a Protestant. After a decade-long “Road to Rome” journey, Greg and his wife “crossed the Tiber” and joined the Roman Catholic Church in 2016. With his eclectic background, he brings a global perspective on the historic Christian faith. Currently, Greg serves as the Director of Ministries at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, teaches at the Lakeshore Academy for the New Evangelization, and is the founder of One Whirling Adventure.